by Patrick Little.
archived from Song For Me website.
The second Family LP was a work that was made when critics and public already had faith in the band. It contains some winners and some losers. But overall, it sounds a little less dated than DOLL’S HOUSE. Certainly progressive with touches of pop and heavy rock. The band was quite disappointed with the production of this album, and from then on Family would have more hands in the process. A few of these songs were remixed for the 1971 anthology OLD SONGS NEW SONGS. Like their first album, there is uncredited piano. In the liner notes they thank Nicky Hopkins, the London session ace, so it must be him. I did a web search on Hopkins and his name turned up on the Steve Miller Band’s Your Saving Grace, recorded 11/69. Glyn Johns was the producer, as he was for FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT. They must have been travelling as a pair!
- “Weaver’s Answer” – Supposedly a signature song of the band, this was a live staple. It really has grow on me, although I know the studio version is not as violent as the band had wished it to be. Peaceful intro and outro… love that 12-string acoustic. Nice guitar strumming, violin, manic piccolo(?), a sax solo, followed by some guitar with that great Fender reverb. The middle part was where the song took off in concert, and featured Chapman destroying mike stands and tambourines. Also a small leap in Chapman’s vocal style from the first album, with a little more grit thrown in. The touring must have taken effect!
- “Observations from a Hill” – This song starts with one of the coolest guitar riffs. Man, that Charlie Whitney could play. Just a nice little ditty, sung by ? (Ric Grech?) with choruses by Chapman. Nice drum fills too. And watch out for the Floyd-ish slide effects.
- “Hung Up Down” – I think this is the heaviest Chapman’s voice had been up to that point. I mean it sounds like he’s got strep throat, but he’s still RIPPING! This song has some of the most contrasting textures: it starts off lightly with acoustic guitar and violin, but gradually builds with a pummelling from the drums. Some strange fifing is in the mix, too.
- “Summer `67” – An instrumental from Whitney. Some swinging reverbed guitar, then a string section that sounds quasi-Indian. Then back to the reverb with a soprano sax that imitates a clarinet. The strings come back with a little sitar thrown in. Nothing like Indian scales and sitar to help reminisce about 1967! 🙂
- “How-Hi-the-Li” – The “drug song”. It’s not as strong as the preceding tunes. With the organ, however, this reminds me of Traffic, as Chapman is singing in a gentler voice.
- “Second Generation Woman” – Uh-oh… here it is. Not a bad song, but ENTIRELY out of place on a Family album. Also a good single, but it probably gave a wrong impression about the band. I try to concentrate on Townsend’s anchoring drums, and I hope that Whitney is doing most of the guitar. Unfortunately, Ric Grech’s vocal are high up in the mix. At least he takes a violin solo, to throw the conventionality a bit. Chapman doesn’t even come in till the end. I’m sorry, but this song needs to stay in 1969. Look at this, I typed the most about an undeserving selection. Well, [months later], let me recant that. I like this song. Very “Paperback Writer”.
- “From Past Archives” – Cowboy-style harmonica kicks off this song, which is has a number of styles. First off, it’s a nice ballad, features harpsichord to back up the 12-string. This gives way to a honky-tonk piano, which kicks off a few bars of dixieland, complete with clarinet (sop. sax?) solo. A string section changes the mood to a symphonic feel, which leads back into the melancholy ballad, and some bluesy singing from Chapman. Good thing I reviewed this; I hadn’t heard all this.
- “Dim” – Here’s a popular, light number from the album, as it was featured on Beat Club appearances. Main ingredients to the song are the great banjo-pickin’, and the call/response of vocals and harmonica. Chapman sings in his gentler style for this bluesy-jugband tune.
- “Processions” – This could be a double-time version of the first section of “From Past Archives”, but using major chords. This song really moves nicely. Reminds me of floating down a river. A reminiscing song about youth. Doubled 12-string guitars, twinkling piano, and atmospheric saxophone. Cuts right into…
- “Face in the Cloud” – Another Grech song. Again, not as strong as the others. I think this would have been improved with Chapman on lead vocals, but it’s too late. Oh yes, and there’s sitar all the way through it to give it that “hipness” it really needed. 🙂
- “Emotions” – Thankfully, the album closes with a bang. This should have been a great live cut. Chapman’s voice is just bubbling up from a crawl to a rage. Epic drums and piano banging. The chorus drops the drums to stretch the texture a bit, then back to the grind. A steel drum solo thrown in for surprise, and tubular bells help wind up the song, along with some Yes-like “Ahhh’s”.